Pfizer has entered into a definitive agreement to acquire all shares of Therachon , a private clinical-stage biotechnology company focused on rare diseases with pipeline assets in achondroplasia and short bowel syndrome therapies.

Pfizer buys Therachon

Under the agreement, Pfizer will complete the acquisition with an upfront cost of $340 million, and with $470 million in additional payments contingent on achieving key milestones in developing and commercialising TA-46 to treat achondroplasia.

TA-46 is an investigational, soluble recombinant human fibroblast growth factor receptor 3 decoy, for bone development abnormalities related to achondroplasia, the most common form of short-limbed dwarfism. There are currently no approved drugs to treat achondroplasia. T4-46 has received ‘orphan drug designation’ from the European Medicines Agency and the US Food and Drug Administration (FDA).

In contrast, Therachon will spin-off its apraglutide development programme into a separate independent company. Apraglutide is in Phase II development for short bowel syndrome. Pfizer Ventures , the venture arm of Pfizer, presently holds a minority stake and will continue to hold an equity stake in the novel company.

The acquisition will allow Pfizer to broaden its rare diseases portfolio by continuing the developing of TA-46, a potential first-in-class therapy that is currently in Phase I.

Another drug Pfizer is going to develop is TA-100, a soluble human fibroblast growth factor, which is in the discovery stage of development for the treatment of achondroplasia. Currently, there are seven products in active development for achondroplasia treatment, with BioMarin ’s vosoritide leading the way, as this is the only pipeline drug in Phase III. According to GlobalData, vosoritide is forecast to generate sales of $699M by 2025.

Through this acquisition and existing research programmes, Pfizer will have a significant opportunity to expand its rare diseases pipeline, and given the big pharma company’s global reach and strong experience in rare diseases, it will be able to maximise the commercial potential of TA-46 and TA-100, an asset that has good strategic fit with Pfizer’s broad pipeline for rare diseases.